American artist, born in 1970. He was born in Portland, Oregon, and raised in Lubbock, Texas, where he was drawing pictures from out of TV commercials while he was still just a toddler. While he received art tips from his mother, a commercial artist, he picked up his beliefs on morality from his father, a minister who ran a children's shelter, among other charitable works.

And he discovered comic books, which began to influence his artistic style. Besides some of the obvious influences, like Berni Wrightson and George Perez, he also admired Norman Rockwell, whose photorealistic painting and attention to detail appealed to Ross.

He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he began toying with the idea of painting comics. Most comic books are drawn (or penciled) by one person, inked by another, and colored by someone else. There had been painted comics before, but they were usually either impressionistic or surrealist and didn't appeal to very many comics readers. After graduating, Ross worked at an advertising agency and did a little work in comics on the side. His work caught the eye of writer Kurt Busiek, who suggested a collaboration.

The result was 1993's "Marvels", which looked at the Golden and Silver Ages of Marvel Comics through the eyes of a photojournalist named Phil Sheldon. Ross' artwork helped make the miniseries wildly popular -- he knew how to draw the human body realistically, with fat and wrinkles and non-cartoonish muscles and honest-to-god facial expressions; he knew light and shadow, and how different light sources would affect the appearance of something you saw; he knew how to draw clothing that wasn't just painted-on spandex, clothing that actually wrinkled like real clothing. His characters -- superheroes and normal folks alike -- looked like real people. They looked like they'd stepped out of a photograph or out of a movie. His artwork helped make "Marvels" an even more powerful piece of storytelling -- the readers got to know Gwen Stacy as a person, watched the common man's reaction to the coming of Galactus, and worried over what finally happened to the little mutant girl. It was a massive, star-making accomplishment.

Ross followed up "Marvels" with the equally-impressive "Kingdom Come" at DC. Written by Mark Waid and set about 20 years into the future of the DC Universe, "Kingdom Come" was a literally apocalyptic vision of a world where Superman has been forgotten in favor of flashier, more violent superhumans. The story is told mainly through the eyes of Norman McCay, an elderly minister who is chosen by the Spectre to observe the coming disasters. McCay was also the spitting image of Ross' father, making "Kingdom Come" a more much personal book than "Marvels" had been. And again, "Kingdom Come" was a triumph for Ross -- copies of the series quickly vanished from comics stores as readers clamored both for Ross' artwork and for visions of what the future held for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and others. The series was so popular that, for a while, DC planned on making it their official model for their future continuity.

Ross began working on smaller-scale projects, though he still had time to work on comics like "Uncle Sam," "Earth X," "Justice," and the 60th anniversary portfolios of Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman. Ross took care of character designs for Kurt Busiek's "Astro City" and covers for a huge number of comics. He also painted a series of covers for "TV Guide" and created promotional artwork for the 2002 Academy Awards -- probably the first time that an inanimate golden statue has been painted to look like a superhero. He painted covers for a couple of albums by heavy metal band Anthrax. And he produced a number of illustrations which were used during the opening credits of the "Spider-Man 2" movie.

Just to keep this from being a total love letter for Ross, I've always had some big problems with some aspects of Ross art and personality. First, he litters his art with in-jokes, cameos, and easter eggs. While it can be fun to search through his work and try to find the cool stuff he's hidden, it can also seriously distract the reader from the story when they discover panels featuring Bjork, Gregory Peck, Don Knotts, the Beatles, the Village People, Fat Albert, and even Popeye. Second, Ross has a tendency to let his ego and his unwavering devotion to the Silver Age get away from him. He's got an ongoing feud with Kevin Smith, because Smith pooh-poohed Silver Age artist Steve Ditko. Ross also quit working for a while on "Astro City", either because he was unhappy with the direction Busiek was taking the book (although Busiek had created the concept behind Astro City long, long before Ross came on board) or because he felt like Busiek was slacking off (Busiek had a near-fatal case of mercury poisoning and had stopped working on "Astro City" to recover). Ross is also part of the crowd that hates Kyle Rayner (the character who replaced Hal Jordan, the Silver Age's Green Lantern) with a blind, seething, unreasoning rage and has said he wants to bring Jordan and the full Green Lantern Corps back, despite the fact that tearing up continuity to satisfy Alex Ross' Silver Age cravings would surely cost DC a huge number of readers and money. Ross, quite frankly, can often dish out more irritation to me than a whole legion of Todd McFarlanes or Rob Liefelds -- but I still dig out "Marvels" and "Kingdom Come" regularly to let myself be astonished by his beautiful paintings...

Some research from the biography at Ross' website,

Additional info from nrkblue